Month: June 2005

Homily for the Funeral of Don Kadel June 26, 2005

“In this is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us” 1 John 4:10


We flew to Portland and drove to Caldwell. Coming up the Columbia Gorge in this late Spring the land and the water were so beautiful, so filled with life. It was so out of keeping with why we were making the journey–the death of my father. Somehow, I just can’t be somber or sorrowful when surrounded by these western hills and deserts come to life with the rains and run-off of Spring. I learned that from Don Kadel. The vigor and power of his life came in relation to the land–especially the wild and open land–in its beauty and the challenges it brought. He did know, from a young age that “the grass withers and the flower fades.” Despite the poignancy of tales of locust plagues and dust infiltrating everything during his childhood in dustbowl, depression Kansas, what I always heard was the challenge to respond and adapt when the power of nature became a challenge. The exploits he recounted with the most relish usually involved serious discomfort, or even danger–like when he was elk hunting with quite a bunch of pack animals in twenty degrees below zero weather and tried to ford a large creek which was freezing from the bottom up.

The mountains, the deserts, the open land, were Dad’s great joy. Equally was being and sharing with people–with family and friends. I know my father’s love more by what he did than by what he said–by including, teaching or protecting me–I mostly remember his anger only when he was standing up for one of his children. Not that he didn’t talk–he would tell stories for hours–filled with his mischievous sense of humor.

To my knowledge, the last time Don Kadel was in this church was for my ordination, 24 years ago. He supported me, even though he couldn’t understand why I would want to undertake such a crazy path. As far as I could tell, the only really useful thing about church for Don was that it made the mountains a little less crowded on Sundays. He actually made few remarks about religion, but the one thing that I remember him saying with some feeling was that there was a noticeable number of members of some religious groups who would make a big show of their strict principles of behavior who would then, the next day, turn around and cheat and even steal from others, with no conscience about it.

So this brings us to the lesson:

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loves us.”

Love of God is not proven in pious words or in self-justification. Love is first founded in God, the Creator. The creator of all that is, especially this land we call home, this Idaho. The love is God’s love for every human being; for Don Kadel and for each of us. As a theologian, I learned to appreciate the forms and power of words. But that can also lead in false directions. For as the New Testament lesson reminds us, “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

Don Kadel was clearly one of those, generous of his spirit and his substance: a loving husband to his wife Bernice, a loving father to his daughter Nancy, his son Brad and to me , grandfather to Rachel, Lisa, Maggie and Julliana, great-grandfather to Isabel, caring brother loyal friend.

After the service at the reception at the Elks, we will have opportunity to share remembrances of him.


“No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God lives in us. And his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12

Let us thank God for the life of Donald Milburn Kadel and love one another. +